Perhaps the biggest event for anyone who works on Java systems is the annual Java One conference in San Francisco. It’s been the event where tens of thousands of people gather together to hear about latest news, rumors, hear the war stories of people who’ve done either similar, or very very different projects than you have, and generally to just absorb the wild atmosphere of the Silicon Valley.
This is often the time and place for big announcements on where the standards like Java and Java EE are going, as well as the place where API and product releases take place. There’s also the vendor market where one can see demonstrations of massive amount of tools that will help you work in the Java ecosystem. This is where I first got thinks like New Relic, JRebel, Artifactory, etc in my toolkit.
How do you keep good?
I’m in a fortunate position to hold a ticket to this event, and travel arrangements have been done, so all there is now is to wait and prepare for that crazy jet-lag filled week. The event has been growing bigger and bigger each year, and currently offers multiple tracks to follow, each starting very early in the morning, and continuing very very late. This year there are a bit over 400 sessions, including presentations, discussions, and hands-on labs. There is absolutely no way to attend all that you would want to, so you just try to absorb as much as possible, and then chew on those memories and some frantic notes for the rest of the year.
We use a lot of Java when solving customers problems, and making their dreams come true. When shaping software to your will is your day job, things are never still, and you can never just stop learning. It used to take longer for new languages and platforms to emerge, but nowadays year is a long time already! If you lull yourself to working with same tools and not upgrading your knowledge and skills, you get stagnated very fast. It’s true that old tools that you know well are very cost effective - but they simply won’t cut it eternally. I still meet people who haven’t even updated their Java to language level 5 - you know, generics and stuff. I’ve been tracking - and even using - Java 9 for some time now, and expect to hear a lot more on that in the conference.
But those presentations are a very boring way to learn, and by far not the best way for ad/hd minds like mine. Additionally, immediately after the conference, most highlights are available online. So if you know your google-fu, you can certainly upgrade yourself to latest and greatest.
But that’s not why I still like to do that 14 hour flight trip to west coast. By using the power of Google, you can access the information, but not the emphasis, how it was received. While I’m at the conference I can immediately measure what things make people go “wow!” and what’s more “meh…”. I can chat with peers to get some more views. I can hear what they’ve done with last year’s stuff and how it went. I typically work on 1-2 projects a year, but by talking with some smartest minds in the industry, I can multiply those experiences by tenfold, and compare them. You learn which tools are really good and work, and which should be avoided.
Here’s some of the things I’d like to see:
- More finished and concrete Java SE 9 - with examples and tools to help transition
- What’s coming up with Java EE 8? Community fears answer is nothing. Oracle claims answer is something. Right now it seems JavaOne is the place where all will be revealed
- Would be lovely to see Google have a stronger presence here. It’s been a bit quiet because of the Android-Oracle lawsuit that just keeps on going. Google always used to bring the fun and crazy with them, and sometimes our brain needs a reboot like that.
And finally, there’s the energy. The energy that comes from experiencing thousands of people suffering from the nastiest side effects of our line of work - excitement and passion for problem solving. While you can google that passion too, being there really recharges your batteries. I experience something similar in Solita, when we have developer day meetings and presentations. But it’s always nice to turbocharge that feeling with a lot people you don’t know, as well. Few years back I was chatting about a fleet of robotic submarines and their autonomic features, about small IoT devices that are used to track train movements, some wild ideas to take the Angry Birds to zero-gravity environment (where they eventually went), a computing cluster created with some legos and Raspberry PI machines, and hundred other stories. And everybody is really really passionate about these things.
So this is where I’ll be a little bit later. Some colleagues will do a trip to JFokus, and of course EuroClojure, and many many other places where great minds assemble. Because if you don’t upgrade your tools, you will be less and less effective compared to those who do.